Pride-themed jerseys for youth after-school program help spark inclusive conversations

Youth participating in the Free Play for Kids after-school program will have special jerseys celebrating pride for June.

The non-profit organization offers sports and athletics programming at no cost to 4,000 kids in need throughout the city, including refugees, newcomers, Indigenous and vulnerable youth.

Free Play partnered with Grande Prairie artist Serena Love to create jerseys sporting the pride flag.

For Ruke Okome, program manager, the jerseys represent a way to ignite conversation about what pride stands for in a way that children can comprehend.

“We’ve always celebrated pride at Free Play,” Okome said. “This is us taking a step further and being intentional about it.”

“Kids are always going to explore and find out new things about themselves,” she added. “So we are trying to create that space for them to do so and in a safe and wholesome way.”

After tournament play wraps up, Okome said all the kids will get to bring the jerseys home to keep.

“We want to make sure that we’re always highlighting all different walks of life at Free Play. We say that we’re a safe, inclusive space,” Okome told CTV News Edmonton. “In order to do so, we need to create that safe environment for everyone to access.”

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